There will no doubt be a lot of these. But I’ll chip in my twopenneth. Great, great day. Up at six and trying not to order Listy about too much (NO PHILADELPHIA IN MY POST RACE SNACK, THANKYOU!). Faffing like a good ‘un. Fortunately have already decided what kit to wear and left it out to remind me that I have already decided, actually, and don’t need to change my mind several times. Coffee and various vitamin based liquids and off we go (I don’t trust my tummy with any form of solids on >15miles, not even porridge).
Listy drives and I listen to house music. I get over excited and am told to calm down. I then navigate wrong and nearly end up in Cheltenham. Or something. Anyway, we waste ten minutes, by which time the car park is almost full. I change gel strategy yet again. I get changed in the car and manage not to damage (a) me, (b) the car, or (c) our marriage. I do, however, smell strongly of Vicks and Ralgex. Listy gets over excited and I tell her to calm down.
I attempt humour in the toilets while queueing for a cubicle. Decide not to do that again. Ever.
I run out with my fat top on. I see oodles of Fetchies. I don’t talk to anyone in the starting melee. I feel shy. And fat and underprepared. I emphasise this by putting my hands in my pockets and bringing out the sign I prepared earlier. I give a posse of Fetchies a thumbs up. And BANG off we go. I start le Garmin.
By 100m it is obvious my gel strategy won’t work as the weight of ick in my pants is pulling them down. Cross, I take two out of a pocket and decide to carry them, as well as the contents of the front pockets. After giving everyone a lovely builder’s arse shot obviously. I mean, why else would I have my name on the back of my top except to make it perfectly clear whose arse cleavage they’re looking at?
Mile 1 I run past Hendo. I have never met him. But I still say ‘twat’ in my head. It’s the Fetch way. I am going faster than any of my schedules, but I’m feeling good. Lots of people run past me. Possibly to get away from arse cleavage.
Mile 2. Hendo runs past me. He’s being paced by KinkyS. This is blatantly unfair and against the rules. Random schoolgirls honk their horns at me. This never happened when I was younger.
Mile 3. Gobi shouts at me. We run past a turkey farm. I don’t know who is more ridiculous – thousands of turkeys running to the edge of their pens to gobble at us, or the hundreds of loonies wearing wicking tops. In the end, I decide Gobi wins.
Mile 4. I run past Hendo again, and pretend to be on for 3:35.
Mile 5. Me and my big mouth. First gel, about 30 mins early. I will gel in front of the next four feed stations.
Mile 6. This is a piece of piss. I am a God. I am running past people at will. Well, not exactly at will, but feeling good.
Mile 7. A FS has the temerity to run past me. I will have my revenge.
Mile 8. Is always a boring mile in marathons.
Mile 9. My lovely wife is where she said she’d be, and I shout at her. It’s what Gobi would have wanted. I also take a bag of gels and jelly babies. And suck greedily on a Lucozade teat.
Mile 10. Umm. I think this was the bit with the weird ‘running round the back of a warehouse bit’. Which was not exciting. See Superted I think. And that dastardly Hendo is about a minute behind. Next!
Mile 11. Beginning to flag a bit, but the metronome has stuck at 8:04 by the Garmin (although it’s beeping early and I know I’m running slower.
Mile 12. Fetchpoint. Bedlam. Chaos in lycra and hoodie form. Gobi shouts at me.
Mile 13. Annoying. Trail bits.
Mile 14. Ho hum. Metronome. Gobi shouts at me from a car. Leave it alone man, I’m married. *smile*
Mile 15. Metronome. Small child gives me sweets in a wrapper. I resist the temptation to run back and clock him one for idiocy.
Mile 16. Slowing a bit. Feet hurt. Nearly hit my head on some thatched cottage nonsense. I’m all for scenic, but this is not Midsomer Murders.
Mile 17. I don’t feel like I’m going faster, but the bastard Garmin keeps telling me the average pace is slipping. I’m sick of the taste of everything sweet.
Mile 18. I hit the mile marker bang on 8:10 miling pace – on for 3:35. Wife is now wearing Fetch beanie. Things must be serious. I vow never to touch another gel (until the next training plan). I suck hard from the lucozade teat. I run past a fellow clydesdale and feel like the big I am.
Mile 19. Yes. There was one. I’m beginning to go backwards. I’m trying to visualise the rest of the race as my standard run home, but my feet are having none of it. They hate me, and the horse I rode in on. My hamstrings are also having an argument and I generally feel like poo.
Mile 20. I am a running God. I am feeling good. I have 10k to run. Look at me run! People! Look at me run! I will just check my Garmin. Oh. I am running slower than ever. How the fuck is that happening? I am a running god! Look at me stride for excellence….
Mile 21. Not big, pretty or clever. I think Hendo is still a way behind me. I pass Superted. Just building up to:
Mile 22. Fetchpoint. Less like a water station and more like a seething mass of red, yellow and towelling. There is noise. Lots of noise. People have forgiven me for arse cleavage and are now shouting my name as well. I feel great. Widger runs past me like she’s left something in the pub. She goes on to PB by 20 mins. Whatever. :o)
Mile 23. Not a good mile. Definitely off my Christmas card list. It seems to wind and turn and stuff. Please God let it end soon. People start coming past me more often. I catch the FS from earlier. I realise, with a sense of overwhelming clarity, that we are ALL STARK RAVING MAD. It turns out to be her first marathon. She’ll learn.
Mile 24. No longer on my buddies list. I nearly punch a cyclist. When I say ‘nearly punch a cyclist’, I mean ‘I swore loudly at a cyclist in my head. And I don’t mean the cyclist was in my head.’
Mile 25. Oh God please let it finish.
Mile 26. With the predictability of things that are really predictable, when predicted by people who know about predicting things, Hendo and KinkyS run past me. It’s ok though, because I know this bit – this is the way from the car to the start – turn left here and there’s almost nothing left. What’s this? BASTARDS! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME RUN AWAY FROM THE FINISH WHEN IT’S ONLY OVER THERE? I have a sense of humour failure. The FS runs past me. Whatever. Like I care. Then the clydesdale runs past me – a Wimbledon Windmiller or something *waves*. Some random Big Bugger is trying to take my Big Bugger glory! I ask a marshall if we have to do a lap of the track. He says yes. I make plans to kill him.
I enter the stadium. Like, I suspect, 99.9% of the competitors I do not see this as a Gobi-like snack to be devoured in the name of intervals. It is quite possibly THE BIGGEST LAP OF THE BIGGEST TRACK I HAVE EVER SEEN.
I struggle to maintain forward momentum around the far bend, the back straight, and the final bend. Then I hear some ‘Monki’ from the crowds and I absolutely, totally and utterly lose it. I shout at the crowd and sprint – SPRINT properly, to the finish, passing three others in the home straight. I finish and a steward comes towards me. I kind of growl at him, and he backs away. Frankly. I could have run through a wall right then.
Then medals and bags and cups of tea. UP FLIGHTS OF STAIRS you sadists. And the lovely, lovely LOVELY No 8 comes over and gives me the big ‘well done’ for finishing 59 minutes slower than him. Ok, it was really to tell me off for looking too fresh. Ok. It was really to say well done. Because he’s lovely like that.
And then I give Listy a kiss, and we sit and grin a lot, watching others finish. I even forgive Hendo for cheating by using a proper metronome as opposed to my rubbish one. And I buy a neon top. Well, Listy buys one for me as I need a sit down. See lots of other Fetchies but don’t talk to many. Shout a lot. See a medal presentation for the first time (never finished in time before).
And then we slip away. Because we’re like that. And shout at more fetchies in the last mile. And laugh at the lunatic supporter with the bike and the stereo. Well, laugh with her – she’s happy enough. But perhaps she’s got more than tea in her flask. Kidding.
And I get home. And log on to Fetch. And old faces get in touch. And I realise that I’ve been waiting three years to meet McGoohan and Cliffy and I completely forgot. Arse! Cleavage!
A great day. An 11 minute PB. Oodles of affection all round. And now a big pie and chips and quite possibly some vino.
And more importantly, I learnt a lot today. A lot about preparation, about mental strength, about camaraderie, about shorts, about turns and quite simply about. I now have the motivation to really kick on and see what I can do with this running lark. It’s no good hiding behind the weight all the time. I can, and do, run. I just need to stop sabotaging myself. And wearing better fitting shorts.